Reviewed: July 2017
Released: 2017, Vile Records
Buffalo, NY has a great metal heritage – Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse, Baphomet, etc. Add Hellcannon to that list. After forming in 2008 and going through some lineup changes, the band is really coming into their own with their second LP, RETURN TO THE WASTELAND, a death / thrash masterpiece. It’s an intoxicating meld of styles that combines early ‘80s thrash guitars and tempos, harsh deathy vocals, and excellent drumming. You won’t be able to stop listening to it!
Things start of ominously with the instrumental title track before diving into the thrash assault of “Warhaze”! Savage breakneck riffing is backed up by an assortment of blast beats and fills while Ryan Fiorita spits forth the vocals. Ryan’s vocals are growled but clear, powerful and direct, no clean singing here folks! The guitar duo of Ryan and Jim Nickles (Malevolent Creation, Hellwitch) immerses the listener in riffs and solos that echo early Metallica and Megadeth. Every song on the album is killer and different and the whole thing seems to move along at a brisk pace, encouraging repeat listens. The beginning of the third track “Day of Demise” reminds me of Metallica covering “Am I Evil?” before it blasts off into something more vicious. “Disarmed and Deceased” is hammering death metal with ripping thrash riffs, great stuff! The vocals play off the riffs perfectly. “Blood Moon Rising” starts off slow and has a great grind to it, more of a death metal musical structure than thrash. “Road Warriors” is rollicking fun, it has an older metal sound like Judas Priest and backing vocals are provided by Brett Hoffman (Malevolent Creation) an obvious influence on Ryan’s vocal style. Drumming throughout the album is a mix of brutality and rhythm, each song has a different drum pattern with great feel. Closing track “For Those Who Have Betrayed Us” is the longest song on the album, chugging guitars and heavy bass. It’s a beatdown to finish everything off.
RETURN TO THE WASTELAND is one of the best albums of 2017. It’s the sweet spot between death and thrash metal. It’s a mandatory purchase for fans of the genres. Highly recommended.
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